Message From the President - January 2012
Surgeons in the Digital Age and The Birth of SAGES’ Social Network
Have you been on SAGES PAGES, SAGES TV, S-WIKI or iMAGES? Did you Twitter at the last SAGES meeting? Did you know there is a SAGES Channel on YouTube? If not, it’s time you joined the SAGES social network! Care to guess how much activity on these sites this year? Keep reading!
SAGES has had a website since 1995 and we are proud to have been early adopters of the opportunities the Internet has brought to our mission, vision, and operations. Though much smaller than the large umbrella organizations representing the vast arrays of physicians across many specialties, SAGES has always invested hard-earned resources that have kept a keen eye on technology use, and evolution. Three years ago despite being a growing society with a terrific Internet presence, our website was frankly, “so 90’s”. It was clearly time to blow the website up! Moreover it was time to redefine SAGES Web presence. The challenge was how to engage our younger members and at the same time not alienate other surgeons dwelling in the lower end of Internet savvy continuum. The mission of redefining how SAGES would utilize the Internet was given to the newly created Web Task Force led by Dan Herron and his merry band of tech savvy surgeons and SAGES Staff (Jason Levine, Ed Rosado, and Sean Scissors).
Do Surgeons need a Social Network?
SAGES is a society of endoscopic and gastrointestinal surgeons, (not to mention some other likeminded individuals). We are connected in many ways as a collaborative capable of benefiting ourselves as well as others in ways not possible if SAGES did not exist. In other words, we are perfect for a social web presence because SAGES members are connected by common threads of professional, humanitarian, educational, and intellectual pursuits. Furthermore, the average age of the social media user is climbing which bodes well for our timing.
With a lot of thought it was decided the web presence social redesign would:
- Preserve the best operational aspects of what was in place.
- Announcements, Guidelines, Position Statements, Dues payment, Letters of recommendations, etc.
- Increase the opportunity to engage all SAGES members in whatever fashion they desired and at the same time increase the opportunity to share media and ideas in real time, taking advantage of the interactivity the social media platforms bring to the table.
- Improve communication within the society
- Create connection between members
- Share enduring material and allow members to interact, rate, improve and discuss the content.
- Bring one’s “SAGES Life” to their member profile
- Create an interactive annual meeting presence
Redesign in action
The first three projects to be undertaken were SAGES WIKI, SAGES TV, and SAGES iMAGES. These were modeled after Wikipedia, YouTube and Flickr, three of the more successful social media sites on the web.
It is not surprising that WE HAVE A LOT OF VIDEO. When SAGES made the transition away from video tape for meeting presentations, we began building a formidable digital video library. When SAGES TV was born the Board of Governors voted to put ALL of the meeting video content on SAGES TV available to everyone free of charge. (Only members can comment on and rate videos). With Internet access surgeons, nurses and trainees can view videos from leading experts on nearly all MIS procedures.
With the help of a Level 1 Google partner (many thanks John Samelas!) SAGES was able to secure Level 2 status on YouTube and we transferred hosting of our content to the social media video giant. As of this writing 1152 video are available on SAGES TV and the SAGES YouTube channel. Hundreds more will be added after the March meeting. Like all SAGES activities, the work of members is critical to success I would like to thank Vadim Sherman, Rob Lim and Niazy Selim for leading this effort as well as for SAGES iMAGES.
The implications of this are far-reaching since we now can post longer videos (and in HD). Most mobile devices work extremely well with this site. Type “sagesvideo” into the YouTube search window of your Smartphone and see what happens.
Need a photo for a talk or a paper? Have a great picture you want to share with the other SAGES surgeons? iMAGES is just for you. This is a searchable and downloadable (for members) image library. Although images are viewable to everyone on the Internet, only SAGES members can upload, rate, comment, and download full size images. In addition, posters from the annual meeting are available on this site as well (since PowerPoint versions are submitted in addition the paper versions).
Downloaded items are available for SAGES members for lectures, educational material, book chapters, journal articles as long as SAGES and the original submitters are credited.
SAGES Surgical WIKI
Do you have pent up expertise waiting for expression? Try editing a page of the SAGES Surgical Wiki. A Wiki is a web page that can be modified by anyone with access to the Internet. Information is created by collaboration. Wikis first appeared in the 1990s when scientists and engineers developed collaborative knowledge bases. By design they are easily edited which can be both a strength and a weakness. Textbooks are limited by rapid (at least partial) obsolescence. In theory a well managed wiki can maintain topical currency by aggregating the collective wisdom of a committed interest group (you). The SAGES Surgical Wiki is supervised by editors from the SAGES Communications Committee. Any SAGES member can update a portion of Wiki of interest although conventional wisdom may overrule some of the edits. Kudos to Shawn Tsuda, Archana Ramaswamy and David McClusky for leading this effort, sorting articles and reviewing edits. Keep reading and you will amazed how many visitors have been to the SAGES Wiki.
SAGES on Twitter
If you have ever been to a SAGES meeting, you know there is a lot going on at any one time. How can you find what is most relevant to you at a given moment? Try following the SAGES Twitter Feed. Last year there were hundreds of Tweets keeping attendees up to date in real time. Many members stay up to date by following SAGES on Twitter or keep “tweeting” all year long. This year when you come to the SAGES meeting, use the SAGES meeting application for iOS and Androids (more info coming soon) and follow us on Twitter (and Facebook) to achieve the optimal experience!
The Ties that Bind
Although the external SAGES website still looks pretty similar to the Home page of 2008, it’s a different story under the hood (and still in evolution!). Welcome to SAGES PAGES – the home of the SAGES Social Network.
On SAGES PAGES members can connect with each other, make “friends”, and join special interest groups. As of this writing Melina Vassiliou has the most friends (116) with Allan Okrainec a close second (113). Committees can conduct their operations on SAGES PAGES, store documents and conduct forums to discuss relevant projects. From SAGES PAGES members can access Surgical Endoscopy, SAGES University and others aspects of SAGES digital presence. The final stage of renovation will be the upgrade of the infrastructure which will make the member profile the link to one’s SAGES activities across the years for CME, MOC, presentations and the like. Stay tuned and update your profile today!
I would like to express my personal thanks to the members of the Communications Committee who oversee these projects: Allan E. Okrainec, Chair, Archana Ramaswamy, Co-Chair, Horacio Asbun, Fredrick Brody, Alfredo Carbonell, Steve Eubanks, Rob Fanelli, Julie Fuchs, Alex Gandsas, Trudie Goers, Alan Harzman, Dan Herron, Leena Khaitan, Peter Marcello, David McClusky, Kellie McFarlin, Kenric Murayama, Hien Nguyen, John Pender, Joe Petelin, Alfons Pomp, Benjamin Powell, Bruce Ramshaw, Pat Reardon, Kevin Reavis, David Renton, Adheesh Sabnis, Niazy Selim, Vadim Sherman, and Shawn Tsuda.
Special thanks also go to the SAGES Webmaster, Jason Levine, who has been with SAGES almost 19 years, as well as Marina Chkheidze, Ed Rosado and Sean Scissors. These “guys” have done a marvelous job turning the creative ideas of the group into a reality!
Surgeons of the Digital Age
Consider the SAGES of 1995. Yes, these were the heady times of laparoscopy. Yet for a society of technologically oriented surgeons we still had a lot of innovating to do when it came to managing the society. Videos were shown from tape cassettes. Posters were printed on paper then often lost forever. Abstracts were cut and pasted on to paper forms and mailed with postmarks very close to midnight on the evening of the deadline. Many trees were killed printing syllabi that languished in surgeons offices never to be reread. We have come a long way! We do none of that now. The Surgeon in the Digital Age Series offered at the annual meetings, taught surgeons to edit digital video, manipulate photograph, learn advanced computer skills, use the PDA/Smartphone for medical applications, apply voice recognition technology and troubleshoot digital systems in their own operating rooms. Many of these transformations plus the addition of ubiquitous high speed Internet access were the preparation for where we are today and make web based social network and modern society management possible.
Have we been successful so far?
Judge for yourself.
The SAGES website has received about 2 million page views from 900,000 unique visitors living in 221 countries from January 1 to November 30th this year. The iMAGES site received more than 10,000 visits from more than 6000 unique visitors. The SAGES Jobs Board experienced more than 4000 visits from 1600 unique visitors. The SAGES Wiki has been visited by 15,000 unique visitors viewing more than 30,000 pages. SAGES PAGES has received 170,000 page views this so far in 2011. As for the SAGES YouTube Channel, there have been 88,000 views and climbing since the SAGES Channel launched this year
What’s next? Stay tuned.